According to this news item,

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said he did not trust Boris Johnson not to call an election for mid-October and then change the date afterwards.

This implies the PM can actually change the date. However, as far as I understand the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, it's the Queen who sets the date:

the polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister

So all this "change the date" could only happen if Boris Johnson asks the Queen to proclaim election for e.g. 15th October, then ask her again to proclaim election for e.g. 1st November. As far as I know, in the past century the Queen (and previous Kings) didn't really go against the recommendations of their respective PMs - but this "let's change the date of the already proclaimed election" trickery seems to be a great opportunity to do so. Is it a real possibility that the PM can change the date of an election?

1 Answer 1


By convention, Her Majesty only acts on the advice of the Prime Minister.

With regards to the election, the motion that the House of Commons must pass is very specific:

That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.

Note that the House of Commons cannot set the date. It is up to the Prime Minister to decide upon the date for the election, and to present it to Her Majesty for her approval. Once Her Majesty approves it, though, then it cannot be changed (except in exceptional circumstances).

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    So if I understand correctly, the PM can say in front of the House of Commons that he plans to have an election on 15th October, but it's not legally binding. The actual motion does not contain a date, so the PM can change his mind after the motion and before he ask the Queen to have the election on e.g. 1st November. Of course, the Queen can still say "you're a naughty boy, you said 15th October in the Commons, you'll get an election on that date" - but that would also lead to a "constitutional crisis" as the Monarch has followed the advice of the PM for hundred years. Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 15:05

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